Theo Hilton, frontman for Nana Grizol, sometimes sounds like Conor Oberst. He also makes music with the same deeply thoughtful, nostalgic, folksy and affectionate approach to the world. But he's not a parrot.
On the band's sophomore album, Ruth, Hilton appeals to a listener's sincerity with songs like, "I once had a lover, I'm not sure if I'll recover, but I know it was worth it," and, "Don't live your life like it's already gone." Such pearls of wisdom fall easy on the ears because Hilton's salty voice and the danceable pop hooks buoy the heavier musical aspects like the earnest lyrics, somber horns and pensive piano. "Cynicism" feels like the music you want to listen to while making late night solo art projects. "Gave On" is that happy song you hum from the morning shower and on into the evening as you make dinner and watch the light fade away.
Nana Grizol might be the next big thing in indie rock. It'll be no surprise considering the band's Athens, Ga., musical breeding ground, plus its rotating cast of Elephant 6 label mates members who've played with Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power and The Apples in Stereo. It's not mindblowing yet, but the band's on its way up.
Nana Grizol plays the Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC) Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 8 PM. $5.